Because of the many similarities of the apps, and because they launched almost at the same time many people are forced to pick sides on this. Famous people like Ashton Kutcher, Afrojack and Madonna are Meerkat fans, while Jamie Oliver, Edward Norton or Roger Federer are using Periscope.
Meerkat was, of course, the first of the apps to launch and debuted at this year’s SXSW festival in March. It was founded back in 2012. Periscope, which was founded a little over a year ago, was purchased by Twitter in February and launched end of March. The founders describe they wanted to create an app that would let you experience “the closest thing to teleportation.”
So, what do the apps do?
Both Meerkat and Periscope are live streaming video apps which link to a user’s Twitter account. They allow viewers to comment on the videos, see how many other people are viewing the same stream at the same time, and allow you to “like” on Meerkat or “heart” on Periscope.
After spending a bit of time on both Meerkat and Periscope, it seems the majority of content is people awkwardly sitting around in their living room answering whatever nonsensical questions people have for them.
What distinguishes the two apps?
Although both are reliant on Twitter as a platform, Twitter unsurprisingly favors it’s own app and has prevented Meerkat from showing which of their followers are Meerkat users - but the app works around this by configuring “People You May Know” and “Leaderboard” sections of the most popular Meerkatters. Once you’ve started a live stream on Meerkat, it automatically tweets a link to your video.
Meanwhile, Periscope lists everyone you’re following on Twitter under its People tab, with a Most Loved list who have been sent the most ‘hearts’ during their live-streams. It offers a much larger database of user videos to watch at any time, and you have to actively opt into sharing your stream on Twitter.
Another difference is that Periscope automatically saves your streams for 24 hours, which lets anyone who clicks on the Twitter link see what you have broadcast. Meerkat on the other hand automatically ends your stream when you stop recording, (although both apps let you save any videos you create to your phone).
Are brands capitalising on this real estate yet?
Celebrities have jumped on-board in a big way, leveraging their existing social media fan bases through the apps. On the business side of things, early adopters Hootsuite recently live streamed an office tour showcasing the social smarts (and beautiful interiors) of their business.
Trolls in live streams are endemic, and currently it’s quite difficult to control. Brands that are already using twitter as a channel to engage with fans however, should already be well-versed at keeping the trolls at bay.
Live streaming is still in very early stages, and those who start early might be sitting on a few million followers in a couple of years like the early Twitter and Facebook adopters.
As a channel, both might finally let brands with strong twitter followings showcase their brand in new, novel and deeply engaging way by speaking to them in face to face, in real time.
Brands, particularly in the film and games sectors have long used video streams to hype launches, events and announcements. This new generation of apps brings streaming video experiences into the mainstream. Given the fundamental connection between social media and these streaming apps, promoting the streams themselves could be done easily through existing social channels.
With their rapidly expanding databases it’s definitely worth to start thinking of ways of leveraging your brand through these channels. But as with any channel, new or old, start with your brand strategy and voice first, and work out what live steaming will do for you - not the other way around.